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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Don't Defile the Dressing Room

Plus-sized shopping in Canada continues to deteriorate. The latest developments:

The other day, I stopped by a Winners store to see if some really pretty tops I'd spotted there awhile ago were still there. It turns out a few of them were, so I gathered a selection together and headed for the dressing rooms.

They looked so bland and unassuming from the outside, I had no idea. I guess I must have been pretty intent on trying my choices on because I didn't notice this

until I finished. (Unfortunately, the tops were all duds, either due to not fitting properly or my simply not liking them.) 

When I saw this ad, I paused for a moment and let the implication sink in. To me, it seemed incredibly outrageous, audacious, manipulative, and quite dastardly. On my way out, I checked through open doors to see if the same ad was posted in other dressing rooms. It was.

The dressing room is a sensitive place for a lot of women ... especially larger women. Most of us, at one time or another, have experienced disappointment, shame, anger, and self hatred within the confines of a dressing room. It can be a place where we experience great joy ("It's so cute! And it fits!") or extreme self loathing ("I can't even get my arms through this thing!")  A lot of us tend to blame ourselves for not fitting into the clothes, not the manufacturers who seem so unwilling to make fashionable clothes that fit us. 

For that reason, in order for us to purchase their products, the dressing room should be a sacred place ... an oasis. It should cater to our every need. There should be flattering lighting, relaxing music, flowers, and serene, tranquil colours on the walls. There should be incense and body positive incantations piped in through the speakers. It's not that I'm against advertising in dressing rooms. For example, in another plus-sized store, I've seen ads for store-brand bras and store sales. No problem there ... Those ads are store oriented, not body oriented.

Isn't a woman body conscious enough when she steps into a dressing room? She has selected one or more items that she hopes will fit her body and look great. If they don't, she usually feels bad about herself. She doesn't need the extra suggestion that if she'd just start eating Special K Cracker Chips and reduce the size of her ass, she might have fit into the clothes she brought into the dressing room with her in the first place!

It also seems like a rather misguided marketing tactic. When a woman steps into a dressing room, the goal is to encourage her to purchase items, correct? (I'm assuming all business owners want to make money and encourage their customers to buy their product.) So what is the rationale behind planting a diet-related ad in a sensitive area like a dressing room, where most women are already judging their bodies negatively to begin with? Do the proprietors of the store think that an ad for a diet cracker geared towards women -- when she is in the midst of looking at herself in the mirror, getting in and out of her clothes, and assessing her body -- is an incentive to buy clothes? Or will it make her judge herself more harshly and perhaps feel disinclined to buy anything?

I had to give this tactic a thumbs down.

I don't know about you, but I think the latter is more likely.

I haven't even mentioned yet that Winners recently did away with their already-meagre plus-sized section, so now plus size shoppers will have to root even harder through the L and XL sections for clothing options.

I never noticed these ads in Winners dressing rooms before, so this must be a fairly recent development. It's not a store I shop at frequently ... if one's around and I have the time, I usually stop in and browse, because I have found some good deals there in the past. But I haven't often gone out of my way to specifically shop at a Winners store, and I can tell you I don't feel particularly inclined to shop there again after this. After all, if a store wants my business and therefore -- my money -- I'd rather shop somewhere that body hatred isn't shoved in my face.

I'd really like to meet the genius or panel of marketing geniuses who thought this ad placement was a good idea. Was it someone at Special K or someone at Winners? "Hey, you know most women hate their bodies, right? Why don't we up the ante and put diet cracker ads in the dressing rooms?"

Aren't women bombarded enough on a daily basis by what they see on TV, in magazines, conversations they hear on the street and partake in with their friends and family members? Isn't there enough body hatred to go around without defiling what should be the sanctity of the dressing room? Can't they even let us have that hassle-free little cubicle of peace?

My ultimate nightmare is that if Special K ads now become the norm in clothing store dressing rooms, Jenny Craig's manipulative, greedy ass won't be far behind.


  1. Wow. I've noticed the plus size sections shrinking dramatically down here in the states, but I haven't seen ads like that yet! Great post! and a great blog.

    My only issue with your ideas for dressing rooms is PLEASE no incense or scented candles! Those of us with allergies have enough problems with going to stores as it is...

  2. I have to agree with you here. I generally don't feel bad about my body but when I get into a dressing room with those mirrors and clothes that I hope will be somewhat flattering on me I tend to walk in holding my breath hopefully. I don't need the extra pressure of diet food ads in my face while standing in front of that mirror. They only remind me of the fact that I am overweight and that doesn't induce me to part with my money for new clothes.